Sakura Wars the Movie (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, March 07, 2003
What They Say
(publisher: King Records, catalogue #: KIBA-9794)
For a fan of the Sakura Taisen franchise, it was my mission to get the movie whenever it arrives on the R2 DVD. Having pre-ordered this DVD since April, you could say I was highly anticipating for its release. And what do I think of it? Well thrilled yet at the same time disappointed.
The movie is basically a segment of events that occurs prior to Ohgami (the captain of the Hanagumi/Flower Division) returning to Teito from Paris. This is something that only those who played the games would know the reason why he was in Paris. A new member joins the Hanagumi, a young woman by the name of Rachet Altair, who was the captain of the now disbanded Hoshigumi/Star Division, a division Orihime and Reni were once in. Along with a new member, a new enemy begins terrorising the city of Teito. The odds were stacked against the Hanagumi and it didn?t help their cause when a new set of automated Koubu appeared and out did the Hanagumi during the battle with the Koumas. Mysteries are revealed and by the end of the movie, there are some mysteries still left unanswered. I would have you know that I understand no Japanese at all, so the movie was kinda confusing for me. A general gist of what is happening with the actions happening around is all that I can understand. And probably this is why I found it disa
However what the story lacked makes up the actions and the climatic musical/stage performance ending. It was great to see Koubu battles, which is something I always wanted to see again since the first OAV. What stands out is just the CGI Koubus duking it out with Kouma beasts, something I wanted to enjoy without having to command the squad in all the games I?ve played. And as any Sakura Taisen fans know, music is what made this series great. The background music in this movie contains certain nostalgia, and certainly those who have played the first game will recognised a few tunes in there. The most striking part of the music is at the end of the movie, the animated version of Kaijin Bessou. A really powerful song, entitled ?Subeta wa Umi e?, which were sung by the seiyuus, Chisa Yokoyama and Akiko Kuno. There?s no need to understand Japanese to know what it is all about.
The video presented here is in anamorphic 1.85:1 video. Since Production IG produced the animation, the visuals in the movie were just downright gorgeous, picture perfect with the transfer itself being picture perfect as well. Great use of CGI and traditional cel animation are perfectly blended here, not surprising considering they did help make the animation sequence in Sakura Taisens 2, 3 and 4. If you have seen Blood, this is the quality I?m talking about. And for those who care, the video is progressively encoded.
The DVD contains both a standard 2.0 and a 5.1 DD track. Both tracks had no dropouts or any sorts of problems. The 5.1 track makes great use of all its soundstage. It definitely has a greater depth compared to the 2.0 mix and it comes out sounding great.
The extras provided I would say is pretty much average. There are 2 trailers for the movie, 3 TV spots, and a couple of music videos. The highlight of the extras is the Kaijin Bessou comparison. As was informed by Ahjenta of the AOD forums, the text explained that the costumes for the live stage performances was based on the movie designs, even though the movie came out after the stage show. There is a musical extract from the live stage show itself, specifically at the end of the performance where ?Subeta wa Umi e? was sung. Definitely something worth watching if you have seen any live stage shows or seen one of the Sakura Taisen ones. It has the movie version as comparison next to it. There?s also a booklet containing details on the movie. On the special edition of this movie, there is a CD-ROM extra. Not worth much considering you need to have a Japanese capable OS to run the programs on it.
Definitely, this movie is a must have for fans of the Sakura Taisen series. Even though the story might be weak, there?s no denying that everything in this movie fits what fans like us wanted. For anyone else, get it for the animation and music alone.
JVC XV-N5 DVD Player, Panasonic TX-76PW10A 32? Widescreen 100hz/Progressive Scan with component cables, Panasonic SA-HE70 receiver, Wharfedale speaker set and Sony Sub-woofer
Mania Grade: B-
Audio Rating: A+
Video Rating: A+
Packaging Rating: A-
Menus Rating: A+
Extras Rating: C
Age Rating: All
Region: 2 - Japan
Released By: Starchild/King Records
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Sakura Wars / Sakura Taisen